Writing an MLA Style Outline

Modern Language Association, which is commonly known as MLA, is one of the most widely used styles for writing. MLA-style manual for writing and referencing is regularly used by students studying languages and/or humanities. MLA style guide needs periods, quotation marks and commas in particular places while writing a paper, inserting quotes or organising a bibliography. For writing an MLA style outline, you need to put in references into the manuscript and also write an MLA-structured bibliography.

The present article on ‘Writing an MLA Style Outline’ will guide you in preparing an MLA style outline for your writing. Some useful tips for writing an MLA style outline are discussed below.

Tips for Writing an MLA Style Outline

  • Create a title for your outline. Arrange the title in the middle of the page header.
  • Insert page numbers consecutively at the top right-hand corner.
  • Avoid underlining or typing in bold the title of the outline.
  • Ensure to keep one inch margins on all sides of the manuscript.
  • Introduce quotations in your outline by inserting brackets following the quote. The brackets should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) by which the quote can be found.
  • If a reader wants to know more about any particular quotation, he/she can refer to the bibliography.
  • Ensure to keep a blank space between the author’s last name and the page number. The period should be put after the bracket close.
  • Compose your outline. Cite direct quotes and paraphrases. You only require MLA formatting for quotations, references, paraphrasing and bibliography.
  • Bibliography formatting should be started by entitling the section ‘Bibliography’. After inserting the title, strike ‘Enter’ twice prior to starting your first bibliographic entry.
  • Each new entry should start on the left-hand side. In case, the entry is longer than one line, the second, as well as the succeeding lines in the same entry should be indented with at least five spaces. This is known as the hanging indentation.
  • Insert the author’s last name first and the first name last. Separate the names by a comma in the bibliography. Insert a period after the first name and write the name of the book. Underline it and finish with a period. The book’s name should be followed by the place of publication, a colon, the publisher’s name, a comma and the year of publication. End with a period.
  • In case the book has more than one author, begin the reference with one of the authors’ last names. The author’s last name should come first, followed by a comma and then the first name. Insert a comma to illustrate that more authors are present and merely write the full name of the second author. Conclude the reference with the same formatting style as discussed in the earlier step.
  • In case there are no authors to be cited, begin with the name of the publication or the work itself. Name the organisation or institution, e.g., a university, if it is the chief publisher.
  • Underline the title of the work and insert a period. Write the place of publication followed by a colon, the publisher’s name, followed by a comma, and the year of publication, followed by a period.
  • Ensure that your outline is double-spaced throughout, as this is a part of correct MLA style formatting.
  • Ensure that the bibliography is alphabetised by the authors’ last names. In case there are no authors present, use the name of the work as the reference for alphabetising.

By following the given tips you can learn the basic technique for writing an MLA style outline. The above mentioned strategies will help you to learn and also guide you in writing an MLA style outline for your future use.